I hope y’all enjoyed watching Graham McTavish’s Emmy reel as much as I did! What a good episode…
A lot of stuff happened this episode (as usual), and rather than jump from event to event like the episode did, I’m going to divide everyone into camps and cover each camp all at once: the Randall camp, the Mackenzie camp, and the Bonnie Prince camp.
This week we’ve taken a 5-month time jump from the Duke’s murder to the ragtag Scottish army camped outside of Inverness. In voiceover, Claire says they’ve been beset by horrible weather and lack of food all winter, and now the once noble group of men that defeated the English at Prestonpans and Falkirk is weak, demoralized, and starving.
She didn’t say this, but someone has to: they shoulda marched on London. Yeah, they might’ve lost, but with their army so weak and poorly provisioned, it seems like now they hardly stand a chance at all. At least back in the fall they had momentum on their side.
Jamie sends Dougal to scout the English forces while Claire heads into town to restock her medical supplies. She runs into Mary Hawkins, who is far less thrilled to see her than she’s ever been. Apparently she’s reunited with Alex Randall, and he told her how Claire advised him to leave her due to his ill health and lack of position.
Mary is coldly angry, and Claire apologizes to her. Her sincerity touches Mary, and she thaws a bit. Claire offers to come by later to see what she can do to comfort Alex, though she warns Mary that his condition is likely incurable.
When Claire arrives she sees that poor Alex is indeed beyond saving: he’s incredibly ill and can barely breathe. Mary keeps trying to give him arsenic, but Claire puts a quick nix on that. Then GUESS who shows up? Speaking of bad pennies: Jonathan Wolverton Randall, Esq. Ugh.
But. Oddly. With his brother he’s a different person. He’s tender and kind, and Mary says that if it weren’t for Jack they would be destitute on the street. She also tells Claire she’s pregnant (!!) which means Jack Randall isn’t Frank’s ancestor after all; Alex is!
Claire bargains with Jack: she’ll help his brother as much as she’s able in exchange for info about the British forces. He gives it. They’re camped 12 miles away, and tomorrow night is their commander’s 25th birthday, so they’re throwing a big kiki.
Jamie is skeptical, but he knows Dougal is scouting out the English; they’ll know for sure how good Jack’s intel is soon. Meanwhile, Alex is fully aware that he’s dying. He begs Jack to marry Mary so that their child will have a name. Jack says Alex can do that, and Mary will be his widow!
Claire knows that Jack is destined to die at Culloden, two days hence, and she reminds Jack of that fact later. She tell hims what he already knows: with him dead, Mary will be entitled to nothing of his as his widowed sister-in-law, but as his widow she would have access to his officer’s pension, as well as whatever he would inherit as the eldest Randall.
Once again Jamie is piiiisssssssed. Claire is feeding little Mary to Jack Randall?? But Claire explains that she’s not setting Mary up to be Jack’s wife, but rather his widow. Jamie points out that if they succeed in stopping the battle of Culloden Jack may live. She smiles coldly and tells him if that’s the case, then she’ll keep the promise she made to Jamie in Paris and help Jamie kill Jack slowly and terribly.
Oh, in an extremely cute moment Murtagh offers to marry lil Mary, but Claire explains that a marriage to an English officer is much better for her than one to a penniless Highlander Jacobite. Murtagh has a few disparaging things to say about Frank, but Claire shuts him down and he reluctantly agrees.
Mary and Jack are wed at Alex’ bedside, and the younger Randall dies shortly thereafter. He goes peacefully, but Jack is infuriated and punches him repeatedly in his poor dead face. When Alex asked him to marry Mary, he basically straight-up said “I know you’re a crazy SOB, BUT…” Alex’ faith in his brother was touching, but I personally am glad Jack’ll be dead in a day so Mary won’t have to deal with that shit.
To camp Mackenzie…
Colum, looking old and very ill, shows up out of nowhere and asks Jamie and Dougal to attend him. Dougal’s still out spying, so Colum takes a moment to meet with Claire. He tells her that Geillis Duncan had her baby before they burned her (oh good?) and it’s a son! That’ll be important next season.
Anyway, he also asks Claire to help ease his suffering, and not really in the way she’s doing for Alex. He asks for something that will speed his passing, and she gives him a concoction that she says will be like “drifting off into a deep sleep.”
Dougal returns and says that yep, the British are where Jack said, but he didn’t see signs of a party. I’ll come back to that in camp Bonnie Prince, because…
Dougal and Jamie go to meet with Colum, and he tells them that he’s offering Jamie wardship of his son, Hamish, until he’s of age to become chief of Clan Mackenzie. Dougal is pissed, not only because Jamie is Fraser rather than a Mackenzie, but also because Hamish is Dougal’s son. Colum knows his brother is no fit leader for the clan, but Dougal warns him that Jamie is just the same: once Colum kicks off, Jamie will raise the banners and fight for the Prince just as Dougal would.
Colum says he knows that Jamie will value his men’s lives above anything else. If it looks like everything’s going tits up, he’ll save his men. Can Dougal say the same? Dougal turns and walks out.
Later, Dougal is moderately drunk and goes to see Colum. Here’s where the Emmy reel comes in. Graham McTavish delivers an amazing monologue, beautifully written and acted, about the accident that first started Colum’s trouble with his legs. Colum was 10, and Dougal looked up to him as his older brother. After Colum started getting ill, Dougal hated him for it. The entire monologue is delivered in one long, shot, tight in on Dougal’s face, and I honestly could not look away from my screen.
Colum is dead when Dougal asks him to say something; there’s a small potion bottle clutched in his hand.
Camp Bonnie Prince!
Jamie at first urges they retreat altogether. The men are hungry and weak, and a battle on Culloden field would benefit the English only. Their cavalry and guns would plow straight through the Scottish (as Claire tells Jamie they, in fact, did). The other generals are incensed, but Jamie reminds them about the money they’re expecting from France. If they just wait for that, he says, they can buy food and supplies, then hit the English on their terms.
Charles listens to Jamie’s proposal, but in the end he rejects it. Jamie is at loose ends: he and Claire have worked so hard to prevent this battle, and now it’s two days away. What can they do?
Claire tells him about Jack’s intel and Dougal confirms it. Jamie says his spies have seen the English soldiers in town buying “wine and sweetmeats.” They’re preparing for a party!
Offscreen, he and one of Charles’ generals (John) plan a pincer attack move. The general will lead one half of the army while Jamie leads the other, and while the English are partyin’ hard, they’ll attack and take them by surprise.
Charles says it doesn’t seem very gentlemanly, but he likes the idea. His other general says he does too, but Jamie and John will lead one troop while he and the Prince lead the other. Jamie starts to protest, but John immediately agrees to these terms.
The poor hungry men march 12 miles in the dark only to arrive and find the Prince’s half of the troop nowhere in sight. Murtagh rides up and says they got lost halfway there and turned around; the Prince’s troops are scattered from here to next week. Jamie urges they attack anyway, but he’s overruled. They all turn around and march 12 miles back. Poor guys.
“Tomorrow the Prince will have his battle,” Murtagh says, his tone grim, “in Culloden Moor.”
That’s it. They’ve done everything they possibly could. The battle of Culloden Moor is tomorrow, and if Claire’s right, then their fates are sealed.
Whew boy this was a good one. I thought it might be kinda boring because it was another “set up” ep, getting us ready for next week’s finale, but it wasn’t at all. The grief over Collum’s death wasn’t hollow; we’ve known him since season 1 and have seen him be a fair, shrewd leader of his Clan. Dougal’s moment of mourning was wonderful.
It’s interesting the difference between Jack and Dougal’s reactions to their respective brothers’ deaths. There was no love lost between Colum and Dougal (as even Dougal said in his monologue), but Dougal was genuinely bereaved by Colum’s passing. It was a long time coming, but it was clear in that moment just how much he loved his big brother.
Jack also clearly loved Alex, his little brother…but Jack is a very very bad man, so his reaction to the one good part of his life leaving him is to beat the crap of his brother’s corpse.
I can only imagine that Jack, had he lived, would have spent the rest of his life taking Alex’ loss out on Mary and the baby, no matter what deathbed promises he made to Alex.
All I could think when it turned out that Alex was Mary’s baby daddy rather than Jack was, “Goddamn Claire could’ve let Jamie kill him after all!” But then, as Claire pointed out to Murtagh, Mary and the baby would’ve been destitute and alone, since Mary’s family disowned her over the rape. With Jack Randall as her (dead) husband, it might be enough for them to take her back in. And if not, she’ll have money from Jack.
Mary’s such a tiny little thing (a “wee slip of a girl,” as Jamie says) I can’t imagine her pregnant and actually delivering a baby. Good luck, kid!
For a hot minute I thought the show was gonna try to give Jack Randall a redemption arc. Luckily, thankfully, wonderfully, no. That didn’t happen. Yes, he was tender with his brother (until Alex died), and he fulfilled his dying wish, but he warned Claire that he “likes the fear,” and that he would do terrible things to Mary if they were wed. Alex swears he has a “dark wall” around the good person inside, but I frankly think he’s just plain rotten all the way through, and his little brother was the one tiny, tender spark he had left. Now Alex is gone, and it’s just rot.
I read another review of this episode that, in hindsight, criticized the decision to open the season with a flash forward to 1948. Because it drains all of Claire and Jamie’s attempts to change history of its tension. Hmmmm…I guess that’s a point, but I dunno. It hasn’t for me? And I’ve even read the books, so I double know they won’t get anywhere. What do you guys think? I mean, um, the book opens in 1968, sooooo….??
why do I bother to grade these? y’all know what I’m gonna say
images curtesy of Starz